Right now, there are numerous strategies development teams can choose from to help guide their processes. These help introduce new ideas to development, and encourage teams to work according to emerging approaches for a successful final product. Just one of these strategies is lean development.

What is lean development?

According to TechTarget, lean development focuses on boosting the efficiency of the development process while preventing any wasted time, effort or resources. It’s an approach that can be applicable not only to the overall project, but to every level therein, including each staff member, his or her department, the operations that take place between departments, and the entire organization as well as its interactions and relationships with clients.

Lean development first emerged in the 1980s, but is still impactful and valuable today. As TechTarget noted, this approach supports a confident and optimistic work environment, and helps to ensure that waste is kept to the bare minimum. In this way, not only are developers positive about the project, but also work to ensure the expenditures are limited and the initiative stays on budget.

However, increasing efficiency and eliminating waste aren’t the only principles of lean development. Let’s take a look at a few others that come into play when this approach is used:

Continual testing to remove uncertainty

Many development initiatives within startups begin simply with an idea for an application or website that the team believes users want. However, The Lean Startup pointed out that as opposed to testing this idea or showing an early version of it to prospective users to gather their feedback, some teams will simply move forward with development. This can boost the chances of failure on a very expensive scale.

As opposed to this strategy, lean development focuses on eliminating uncertainty through continual testing and ongoing feedback loops. This approach also encourages constant communication with the client to ensure the project is on track. This principle of eliminating uncertainty about the initial idea for the product also helps prevent any resources from being wasted during the development of an unviable platform.

Creating a minimum viable product

In order to appropriately gauge that continual feedback, the development team must work to create a minimum viable product that can help give an idea of the direction developers are going. This MVP will showcase the basics that the final product will be built around, and is a critical part of lean development.

However, this principle doesn’t end with the simple creation of an MVP. The Lean Startup noted that the team should also put the MVP through an exercise known as the “Five Whys.” Here, the team asks clear and basic questions in an effort to identify any problems that might arise with the app, as well as potential solutions.

“When this process of measuring and learning is done correctly, it will be clear that a company is either moving the drivers of the business model or not,” The Lean Startup noted. “If not, it is a sign that it is time to pivot or make a structural course correction to test a new fundamental hypothesis about the product, strategy and engine of growth.”

Ensuring quality

Lean development, as with any development strategy, must also place a high importance on quality. However, as All About Agile pointed out, this can be somewhat difficult here, given the priority of eliminating waste.

Quality issues result in all sorts of waste. That’s a fact,” All About Agile contributor Kelly Waters wrote. “There’s waste in testing the code more than once. Waste in logging defects. And waste in fixing them.”

Thankfully, this lean approach seeks to address just the issues described here by leveraging strategies like Frequent Integration, Minimum Time Between Stages, Managing Trade-offs and:

  • Test-driven development: Another way to ensure that quality is baked in is with a test-driven development strategy. This approach allows the test conditions for every feature to be identified and mapped out before that capability is developed. In this way, testing can take place more often and in a more streamlined way. This also helps ensure that high-quality code is written by developers. “If the developer knows how [each feature] is going to be tested, they are much more likely to write code that addresses all the scenarios,” All About Agile noted.
  • Automation: Automating select tasks is also a beneficial way to ensure quality. The best place to utilize this strategy in a lean development project is during testing. As opposed to running the same or similar tests over and over again, the team can use an automation tool to reduce the risk of mistakes and complete repetitive processes.

Quality is critical for any development strategy, but is even more important to ensure during lean development.

Building validated knowledge

There will be a learning process involved in nearly every development process. This knowledge building is also a critical part of lean development. Learning about the client’s needs and preferences, how these will impact the final product as well as users’ feedback is essential.

All About Agile suggests leveraging activities like pair programming, code review, documentation and knowledge sharing sessions to help support this learning process. In addition, it can be helpful to communicate this knowledge with the overall development community via industry forums or wikis.

Lean development: An impactful strategy for today’s teams

Overall, lean development introduces several key principles that can be leveraged to drive the success of any initiative. These approaches help ensure high quality, boosted productivity as well as increased efficiency while working to eliminate waste.

For more information on lean development in action, contact the experts at Making Sense today.